Game 6 pregame news and notes

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Game 6 pregame news and notes

News and notes as the Capitals prepare to take on the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals 7:30 p.m.):

Beagle update: Capitals third-line center Jay Beagle was literally carted to the entrance of the Capitals dressing room at about 5 p.m. tonight.

Capitals coach Dale Hunter said Beagle, who sat out Wednesday's morning skate after blocking a shot by defenseman Anton Stralman, will play tonight. Look for him to center a line with Matt Hendricks and Marcus Johansson, allowing Troy Brouwer to play on a top line with Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich.

Reunion?: If the Caps fall behind tonight don't be surprised if Hunter reunites Ovechkin with old buddies Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Semin.

Tonight's officials: Dan O'Halloran and Wes McCauley are the to referees tonight. Pierre Racicot and Scott Driscoll are the two linesmen.

Forcing a seventh game: Since the 2007-08 season, the Capitals have gone 3-0 in Game 6 situations when trailing a series 3-2. The last time the Capitals trailed a series 3-2 entering Game 6 was during the 2009 Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the New York Rangers. Washington earned a 5-3 win in New York in Game 6 before coming home to Verizon Center to defeat the Rangers 2-1 in Game 7.

Resilient: Since the 2010 playoffs, the Capitals have gone 7-3 in games following overtime contests. In those 10 games, the Capitals own a 4-1 record following overtime defeats. Washington has gone 3-0 following overtime losses during these playoffs.

Climbing the charts: Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich and Alexander Semin are the only three Capitals who have suited up for all 49 of the teams playoff contests over the last five springs. The trio, all expected to appear in their 50th career playoff games tonight, ranks tied for 12th all-time in playoff games played in Capitals history. Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom have each played in 48 games in the past five seasons. All five players rank in the top-20 in playoff scoring in Capitals history.

Ovi watch: Alex Ovechkin has collected 58 points (29 goals, 29 assists) in 49 career playoff games, surpassing Peter Bondra for third place in Capitals playoff history. Ovechkins 29 postseason goals have surpassed head coach Dale Hunter for second all-time in Caps history, trailing only Peter Bondra (30).

Back-to-back: Goaltender Braden Holtby has gone 28 straight starts in the NHL including 12 in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs without suffering back-to-back setbacks. Holtby has gone 5-0 with a 1.29 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage in games following a loss during these playoffs.

All-time tenders: Braden Holtby has appeared in 12 playoff games in his career, all coming this season. He ranks tied for fifth place in Capitals history in playoff games by a goaltender. Holtbys six wins rank fifth in Caps history while his 371 saves also rank fifth. Holtbys 12 games played and six wins are both the second-highest totals in each category for a rookie goaltender in a single campaign in Caps history.

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Why the Capitals will not trade Alex Ovechkin this offseason

Why the Capitals will not trade Alex Ovechkin this offseason

Alex Ovechkin is undeniably the best player to ever suit up for the Washington Capitals. He is the greatest goal scorer of a generation and one of the best players of all time. And yet, he is still struggling to find playoff success.

In 12 NHL seasons, Ovechkin has led the Capitals to the postseason nine times but has never made it past the second round. As the team’s best player, he receives most of the praise for the team’s successes and most of the blame for its failures. It would be unfair to pin all of the team’s playoff struggles on the Great 8 alone, but with an all-time great player to build around, the Capitals have been a team with championship aspirations and they simply have not lived up to that. And that has some people wondering if it may be time to move on.

Ovechkin will be 32 years old before the start of the 2017-18 season and Father Time, as they say, is undefeated. With a cap hit just over $9.5 million and no real postseason success to speak of, would the Capitals possibly consider trading him?

Not likely.

Now let’s be clear, if Wayne Gretzky can be traded, anyone can. I am not trying to say that it can’t happen, but here are a few reasons why it won’t:

He is still a productive player

Yes, Ovechkin is on the wrong side of 30, but with 33 goals this season he still was tied for the team lead and ranked 13th overall in the NHL. T.J. Oshie also scored 33 goals for the Caps and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The Capitals likely do not have the money to re-sign Oshie, but even if they could, ask yourself this: Who is more likely to have more offensive production next season, a 30-year-old Oshie who has reached the 30-goal mark in a contract year for the first time in his entire career and who played in 68 games in 2016-17 due to injury or Ovechkin who has never scored fewer than 32 goals and has never played fewer than 72 games in a full 82-game season? He can’t keep up that pace forever, but there’s a good chance that even if Ovechkin takes a step back in 2017-18, he still may be a better offensive player than Oshie.

RELATED: 20 questions: What direction should the Caps take?

His cap hit makes him hard to move

Ovechkin has the fourth-highest cap hit among active players in the NHL. Most teams do not have $9.5 million worth of empty cap space with which to plug Ovechkin into the lineup and those that do usually carry that much space for a reason, namely, they are trying to save money. I do not foresee the Arizona Coyotes suddenly getting out the checkbook to pay for Ovechkin. Sometimes teams can find a way to make an even swap for a player with a similar cap hit. Just look at last offseason when the Montreal Canadiens traded P.K. Subban ($9 million cap hit) to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber (about $7.9 million cap hit). Let’s take a look at the top ten cap hits in the NHL to see if there is a possible trade there: Patrick Kane ($10.5 million), Jonathan Toews ($10.5 million), Anze Kopitar ($10 million), Evgeni Malkin ($9.5 million), Subban, Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million), Corey Perry (about $8.6 million), Steven Stamkos ($8.5 million) and Henrik Lunuqvist ($8.5 million). Do you see any trades on that list that would make sense for both teams because I don’t. That would mean teams would have to give up a significant package to Washington and I am not so sure he would be worth that to many suitors (more on that to come). There would be no shortage of interest for Ovechkin if he was available, but getting the math to work would be incredibly difficult.

Vegas does not make as much sense as you may think

While most teams do not have the cap space to make a deal work, there is one team with plenty of cap space and they just so happen to have the same general manager, George McPhee, who drafted Ovechkin. Yes, the Vegas Golden Knights are the wild card of the offseason as they have to find a way to build an entire roster from scratch. With plenty of money to spend and plenty of familiarity with Ovechkin, some see this as a match made in Heaven. It’s not. First, if there are any people out there with the crazy notion that Washington should simply leave Ovechkin exposed at the expansion draft in the hopes that McPhee will take him off their hands, that would be the worst possible move the Caps could make. Even if you are sold on the idea that they need to move Ovechkin, there is zero compensation for losing a player in the expansion draft. You cannot give Ovechkin up for nothing. Yes, Vegas could still try to make a trade, but just what exactly could they offer? The Golden Knights have only two players currently under contract. That’s it. With all due respect, the Caps are not trading Ovechkin for Duke Reid. Based on the set up of the expansion draft, it is not likely to yield Vegas anywhere close to the kind of talent the Caps would hope to get in return for a trade. Sure, McPhee could throw a bunch of draft picks at Washington, but if the Caps hope to win now with Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby, draft picks are not going to make this team any better in the present.

You can’t get equal value in return

Ovechkin will be a 32-year-old winger with little postseason success and a cap hit of over $9.5 million. If Ovechkin hits the trade market, he will have plenty of suitors, but the Capitals cannot possibly hope to get back anything close to equal value for him. First, considering everything he has accomplished, how long he has played for Washington, the fact that he is the team captain and the face of the franchise, he means more to the Capitals than he would to any other team in the NHL. Second, any potential trade partner will not approach this from the standpoint that they are trading for a generational talent, rather they would view Ovechkin as a star winger on the back half of his career with a massive cap hit. Whatever you think Ovechkin may be worth on the trade market, the other 30 NHL teams will have a much lower value of him and there is no point in pulling the trigger on a trade this big if you do not like what you are getting in return.

He has a modified no-trade clause

Ovechkin’s cap hit, age, postseason history and trade value are not the only obstacles the Caps face would face in making a potential deal. His contract also carries a modified no-trade clause that allows him to list 10 teams in which he cannot be traded to. That further limits the team’s options. Typically in these situations, when a team intends to pursue a trade they ask for the player to give them the list before they begin talking to other teams. In this day and age, it is impossible to keep news like that quiet. Somehow, someway, someone in the media would find out that the Caps requested Ovechkin’s list of 10 teams and report that the team was shopping him. When that happens, Ovechkin’s price tag would drop significantly. At that point, general manager Brian MacLellan would essentially have to be move him to prevent the story from becoming a perpetual distraction to the team. You cannot possibly expect the Caps to have a successful season if the news comes out that the team was shopping Ovechkin. At least that’s how every other general manager would view it. Motivated sellers are good news for a potential buyer, bad news for Ovechkin’s trade value.

He means too much to the franchise

Let’s turn the clocks back to a time before Ovechkin came to Washington. In the 2003-04 season, the Capitals ranked 25th in the league in home attendance with fewer than 15,000 fans per game. That’s fewer than the Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes and even the Atlanta Thrasers who later would pack their bags and move to Winnipeg. Ovechkin completely reignited the fan base in a way no player ever has in the team’s history. Of all the Caps fans out there today, a sizable number of them do not know Capitals hockey without Ovechkin, not because of their age, but because he is what ultimately drew them in and got them interested in the sport. He is a dynamic player with a fun personality that hockey fans across the league love to see play. Consider this, only 11 teams have ever appeared in the NHL Winter Classic. The Caps have played in it twice. Even the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers, all three of which are original six NHL franchises, have only made one appearance. That does not happen without Ovechkin. Nostalgia is a dangerous thing in sports and teams cannot allow themselves to be handcuffed by it, but it would be a hard sell to trade away the face of the franchise when many Caps fans, perhaps even a majority of them, were not around for the pre-Ovechkin days.

MORE CAPITALS: What's next for the Caps? No one seems to agree

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Kirk Cousins sounded optimistic about contract talks with Redskins

Kirk Cousins sounded optimistic about contract talks with Redskins

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins repeatedly sounded optimistic about his ongoing contract negotations with the organization, though he acknowledged the talks will probably go until the last minute.

"Deadlines do deals," Cousins said.

Speaking Wednesday to the media after an OTA session, Cousins explained that talks with the Redskins have been positive and ongoing. He also admitted that he doesn't expect a deal to get finished before the July 15th franchise tag deadline.

In 2016, conversations between the Redskins and Cousins largely broke down before the tag deadline. That seems to be a different story in 2017, and while it may only be a glimmer of hope, it's an encouraging development for Washington fans that want to keep their passer. 

"It's been very positive," he said. Of July 15th, Cousins said, "it will be a telling date, as it was last summer."

Over the last two seasons as starter, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards, twice breaking the franchise single-season passing record. In 2015, Cousins emerged in the second half of the year to play some terrific football and lead the Redskins to a division title. In 2016, Cousins never quite hit the same highs as 2015, but was much more consistent and piled up passing yards. 

Redskins team president Bruce Allen said earlier this week he remains positive about a long-term deal for Cousins. Allen maintained that talks are ongoing with Cousins' representatives, and similarly to Cousins, expects the bulk of the talks closer to July 15th.

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